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Posted: 06 August 2012 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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George - 05 August 2012 06:19 AM

“Deserving a punishment” is just another just-so story our brains have come up along the way. A criminal deserves to be punished just like the moon deserves to be bombarded by meteors, or the Milky Way deserves to collide with Andromeda.

Right.

The story is we could have done otherwise in the actual situation and therefore (somehow) we deserve what happens to us. Rather than in the final analysis, it’s a lottery.

So you get that right George but then you shrug your shoulders as if this belief is benign. This is the odd thing about this subject. Skeptics, such as you, wouldn’t do it if we were talking about some other belief you were skeptical of, like,say, alternative medecine. 

This is what the battle over free will is about. Sam Harris, Tom Clark, Bruce Waller and others are saying not only do we not have Libertarian free will (as most philosophers and scientists agree) but also that it matters that people believe in it and single out individuals, as if they are,’ little gods’, ‘ultimately responsible’. They are saying it’s of benefit to us to stop doing this.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 August 2012 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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I am not sure what free will has to do with alternative medicine, but I thought I have always been more of a reductionist than anybody else on this forum when it comes to different topics. And I have said it a number of times, but I don’t go around living my life thinking about free will 24/7; although it does pop up in my mind quite often.

[ Edited: 07 August 2012 06:59 AM by George ]
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Posted: 07 August 2012 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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GdB - 05 August 2012 11:21 PM
VYAZMA - 05 August 2012 11:56 AM

We don’t use deserving. Deserving happens.

Yes, one can describe it as such. But as a description of what actually happens, I think it is superfluous. And as a concept in morality I think it is no use, and is more used to end a discussion in giving reasons for punishment, than that it clarifies such a discussion. Undeniably there are people who like to stop discussing what punishment fits to what crime. There are even good practical reasons for it: we cannot wait endlessly to put somebody in jail. But the reasoning should not be too short: then we are back at lynch justice again.

We’re talking past one another.
Let morals happen too.  Trying to define moral constructs and ways to improve them is superflous.
We are talking past one another.  You are examining morals and deserts as a piece of clay and how that clay is molded, or how it can possibly be remolded.
I’m discussing(arguing rudely, I know.) where the clay comes from…..the Earth. I’m discussing how the clay formed underground and what are some of it’s ingredients.
I apologize for my snide comments in the past.

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Posted: 07 August 2012 11:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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VYAZMA - 07 August 2012 06:57 AM

You are examining morals and deserts as a piece of clay and how that clay is molded, or how it can possibly be remolded.
I’m discussing(arguing rudely, I know.) where the clay comes from…..the Earth. I’m discussing how the clay formed underground and what are some of it’s ingredients.

Nice metaphor. Yes, that is more or less it.

You see, a historical, evolutionary and biological explanation of the origination of morals is the outside story. But we, as the biological entities that have morals, live with them. Not discussing if it is fair to cut off the hand of a thief of a loaf of bread, because all our moral discussions have a natural explanation is somehow inconsistent - or at least we must then give a natural explanation of why having a natural explanation stops moral reasoning… (If you understand what I mean…)

Another way of seeing it: there might be a historical, evolutionary and biological explanation of why we developed mathematics. But having this explanation does not help us the tiniest bit in deciding if the theorem of Pythagoras is true. In the same way there is no escape to discuss if our punishments are fair. Natural explanations do not help. And in another similar way the concept of ‘desert’ does not help either. Both are concepts that are used to stop us from finding justifications on which we can all agree, to stop the endless societal discussion about fairness in a changing society.

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Posted: 08 August 2012 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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GdB - 07 August 2012 11:40 PM
VYAZMA - 07 August 2012 06:57 AM

You are examining morals and deserts as a piece of clay and how that clay is molded, or how it can possibly be remolded.
I’m discussing(arguing rudely, I know.) where the clay comes from…..the Earth. I’m discussing how the clay formed underground and what are some of it’s ingredients.

Nice metaphor. Yes, that is more or less it.

You see, a historical, evolutionary and biological explanation of the origination of morals is the outside story. But we, as the biological entities that have morals, live with them. Not discussing if it is fair to cut off the hand of a thief of a loaf of bread, because all our moral discussions have a natural explanation is somehow inconsistent - or at least we must then give a natural explanation of why having a natural explanation stops moral reasoning… (If you understand what I mean…)

Another way of seeing it: there might be a historical, evolutionary and biological explanation of why we developed mathematics. But having this explanation does not help us the tiniest bit in deciding if the theorem of Pythagoras is true. In the same way there is no escape to discuss if our punishments are fair. Natural explanations do not help. And in another similar way the concept of ‘desert’ does not help either. Both are concepts that are used to stop us from finding justifications on which we can all agree, to stop the endless societal discussion about fairness in a changing society.

I still think labelling “deserve” as a concept that is “used” is far from the truth.
Deserve goes much deeper than that.  Obviously it is cited as a reason for punishment, however the feeling of deserve is a major contributor to rewards or the taking away of liberty.  Our discussions(which are natural occurences) about deserve are one tiny cog in a machine that will slowly change our ideas of laws and punishment and reward over time.  Then again other NATURAL Occurences may come along and drastically modify our ideas and behaviors about “deserts”. It could be anything. Look at past diseases.  Religious reforms or dark ages.  Political leaders expressions etc etc etc….
As an individual you or I are observing more than we are impacting these “concepts”.  Even you and I and many others of the same mind. We are just observing. Let food shortages or water shortages or War come along.  Then we’ll discuss deserts. That’s why I can generally deduce that the “system’ in place now is the “best” system.  It’s the natural progression.  It is nature “acting” as our behavior collectively to give us the most efficient collective, social survival system.
And when I deduce that, then I can safely say that your critique or chastising of Dead Monkey about his views on deserts was basically unwarranted.  I suppose you can rest on some perceived moral attribute or higher understanding of what is right and what is wrong. But Monkey’s feelings were natural, and probably CAN help us understand reward and punishment.

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Posted: 10 August 2012 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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I hope I understand you.

You are giving a natural account of our morality. That is perfectly OK, I see no problems with that. In this account you say it is natural that the feeling of ‘deserving’ arises. I also agree with that. But that still does not mean it is a concept that we ought to use in moral discussions. It is one thing to understand what is happening. It is another thing to ask if it is good what is happening. We can understand how the volcano destroyed the village, but from our view it was not good. Now, a volcano is not a moral agent, so nothing from the side of the volcano will change because of our verdict. But for humans it is natural to react on moral verdicts, especially when these are implemented in a juridical system. That means we are moral agents, and that we ask of other people, and ourselves, to behave morally, and eventually to be responsible for our actions, also for our juridical actions, which means we should be able to give good reasons for our actions - that includes our juridical verdicts, because they are actions too.

Now my question is if the concept of ‘deserving’ is a useful concept in our moral reasoning. And that question has nothing to do with the fact that it quite naturally arises in our historical, moral development. Stating that is called the naturalistic fallacy.

The impact on moral discussions is just a problem of number: there are just too many people (and some having more power than you), than that you feel you have any influence. And surely the circumstances will change our morality. But at this moment we are not on the brink of total destruction, that we must save every resource that we can. But suggesting that we should kill incapable and handicapped, during at the same time we are just spoiling resources with expensive cars, useless guns, the newest electronic gadgets etc, is abhorrent.

It is natural to think for yourself first, but if that leads to verdicts ‘Get your fingers of my car, better kill a handicapped’ then I find this absolute abjectable.

[ Edited: 10 August 2012 02:27 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 10 August 2012 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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The idea of recognizing the human propensity for deserts is the hub of this whole discussion. By recognizing this natural behavior we can stay objective while observing current and past or future implementations of deserts.
The discussion of what constitutes right or wrong in regards to punishment or reward or liberty is subjective. Make no mistake, the discussion has generally contributed to the gradual liberalization of liberty, rewards and punishments-as I know you and I are are grateful for. And this is why you are a strong proponent of the discussion.
On the other hand I am a strong proponent for the observation of the natural behavioral tendency for deserts. I believe that balancing the discussion with knowledge that humans have this behavior of deserving is objective. 
By recognizing this balance, we can avoid going to far with perceived ideas about right and wrong. Humans will socially reject eventually letting the murders get away with murder for example. It is a delicate balance for the most part. Again this is why recognizing the natural explanation for deserts is extremely important. The same can be seen with reward.  In society, people began to lather if the perceived reward system under capitalism for example is too far skewed. There are a hundred other examples of rewards, liberties and punishments.  And these examples and the social reaction therein have positively shown that people want and need deserts. It is important to recognize this natural need-and why we have it.  In recognizing why we have it, we can more fully understand it’s natural implementation.
So the discussion is good and is slowly progressing towards liberalization, unless natural environmental factors set it back again. War, famine, disease or totalitarianism.
I think understanding my naturalistic point of view can help leaven the discussion from a deterministic angle. Understanding that if you push against human nature too fast, then there will be blowback that could erase all of the gains made through discussion.

One other thing I wanted to bring up.  What about our own views on what we personally deserve?  Have you ever felt you deserved a reward? When I was punished(many times! lol.) I understood why I was punished. I knew it was “fair”.  This is a very important angle to explore.  The inward personal ideas about deserts for ones self. Very relevant.

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Posted: 10 August 2012 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Vyazma,
One other thing I wanted to bring up.  What about our own views on what we personally deserve?  Have you ever felt you deserved a reward? When I was punished(many times! lol.) I understood why I was punished. I knew it was “fair”.  This is a very important angle to explore.  The inward personal ideas about deserts for ones self. Very relevant.

To me that is THE question.  As I understand it the personal Ego has no moral restraints, but is taught to practice conformity (hospitality, respect, generosity) when dealing with other individuals.
Thus the question if “being deserving of….” comes down to the question if it is a learned or an inherent virtue or sin.

[ Edited: 10 August 2012 03:53 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 August 2012 01:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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Write4U - 10 August 2012 03:50 PM

To me that is THE question.  As I understand it the personal Ego has no moral restraints, but is taught to practice conformity (hospitality, respect, generosity) when dealing with other individuals.
Thus the question if “being deserving of….” comes down to the question if it is a learned or an inherent virtue or sin.

The problem is deserving has as part of it’s meaning ‘fair’, ‘just’.

Some will suffer as a result of their choices and some will enjoy happy consequences. What people believe is that this can be fair to those people rather than they are merely lucky or unlucky to have made those choices.

This is the big problem that a number of people want to challenge and over throw, it isn’t right and it’s bad for us to think it is.

I think this book on the subject, might be worth a read. http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=1861

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Posted: 12 August 2012 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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S. Lawrence-

The problem is deserving has as part of it’s meaning ‘fair’, ‘just’.

Some will suffer as a result of their choices and some will enjoy happy consequences. What people believe is that this can be fair to those people rather than they are merely lucky or unlucky to have made those choices.

This is the big problem that a number of people want to challenge and over throw, it isn’t right and it’s bad for us to think it is.

Your obsessed with this.  Some are always going to suffer first off. And some are going to get rewards they don’t deserve.
Secondly, what the heck is wrong with people “believing” something is just and fair? 
Do you have any ideas or knowledge of human nature?
This is not a big problem, and I’d love to hear how some are going to challenge it and overthrow it!
The best you are going to get is the slow, natural discussion(learned, reasoned scholars and politicians etc..that shape policy and thinking.) that GdB speaks of.  That has been happening for hundreds of years.  The slow, natural liberalization of justice and wealth distribution.
What do you want to do? Put microchips in people’s heads?
I personally believe alot of people deserve punishment(corrupt politicians, bankers and overly wealthy people), and I personnally believe lot’s of people deserve better(more wealth re-distribution, better pay for harder work etc..).  Am I wrong?  And if I’m not, then how can you justify other people expressing their behavioral emotions?

[ Edited: 12 August 2012 04:24 PM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 12 August 2012 11:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Dead Monky - 31 July 2012 07:10 AM

Eh.  I don’t especially care whether she “deserves” it or not.  And I’m not entirely sure how to define it anyway.

I was just stirring things up.  Honestly, I’m generally in favor of euthanizing psychotics, sociopaths, and others with less than favorable treatment outlooks.  It’s just a pointless waste of resources.

Wow.. You might change your mind on that if you or a loved one ever had a brain injury that led to psychosis.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 12 August 2012 11:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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VYAZMA,

I am afraid I am repeating myself: you give a very detailed description of how the idea of desert arises, and how it works in society. I couldn’t do better myself. Does such an objective account help us to understand how we should shape our moral and juridical verdicts? Yes, I think it does. Does it catch the full dimension of morality? No.

Say you give a natural account of the natural sciences: then the story would be about people who want to understand their environment as part of their survival strategy, a story about the arising of myths (think about the Nile), the curiousness of people, the possibility to earn money with technology and win wars with it, the sociological functioning of scientific groups, yes, even the sociological mechanisms that explain what is accepted as truth by the scientific community. I think such insights are useful too, they might even improve the scientific praxis. But: such a description would not catch the full dimension of science. (Some post-modernists however think it does.) It leaves out that science is quest for truths, and not just a question about who wins a discussion. There is a criterion ‘outside’ that cannot be caught by an ‘objective’ description of the scientific praxis: that truths are related to observations and experiments.

It is similar (not the same!) with morality. You leave something out when you tell the outside story. The best way top see this is when you are personally involved. Say you are on trial for something you did, but you think your proposed sentence is too high. What are you supposed to do? To give a historical account of morality? Or find arguments that are intrinsically moral? You must give justifications for your standpoint that the proposed sentence is too high.

The same from the side of the judge. He must find justifications for his proposed sentence, or for why you are guilty or not. And one step further, we, as society, must think about which laws we want to have, what we think are appropriate punishments for crimes. And it is in this area that I think the concept of ‘desert’ should be abandoned. For me the concept of ‘desert’ points to some criterion that lies outside the moral discourse. It is a remnant of the times that God decided what we deserved. It is a remnant of the time that we felt fully OK to stone man and women because of adultery or chop of a hand because a thief stole a loaf of bread. We were justified in doing this, because we executed God’s will.

Nobody deserves punishment. But we, the society, collectively decide what we think are appropriate measures for acts we despise of.

We might live in a time of Enlightenment, but we are not ready yet. We still have thought patterns left over from our religious cultural background. Elsewhere I identified dualist thought as one of these thought patterns (we think we have overcome mind/body dualism, but in fact we haven’t yet completely). Here it is the concept of desert.

PS Just saw that the concept of desert came up elsewhere on these fora, and, probably no accident, in a theological context.

[ Edited: 13 August 2012 04:03 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 13 August 2012 12:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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i have never given this much thought, but in retrospect it is an important societal problem.
“Just desert”

In fact, the term correctly applies to deeds both good and ill, but, from the perspective of the criminal justice discipline, it is most often applied with regards to negative behavior. It is, after all, seldom the duty of the courts to reward those who have committed honorable or noble acts.

http://voices.yahoo.com/just-desert-research-into-criminal-justice-philosophy-1291835.html

[ Edited: 13 August 2012 12:30 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 13 August 2012 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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GdB-And it is in this area that I think the concept of ‘desert’ should be abandoned. For me the concept of ‘desert’ points to some criterion that lies outside the moral discourse. It is a remnant of the times that God decided what we deserved. It is a remnant of the time that we felt fully OK to stone man and women because of adultery or chop of a hand because a thief stole a loaf of bread. We were justified in doing this, because we executed God’s will.

Again you are approaching “deserts” as a concept. A concept that could be abandoned!  I could and should stop here! Really! I should walk away from this on the basis of that statement alone.
Nothing is remnant of a time when god decided what we deserved, nothing is remnant of a time when god decided anything. There is and never was a god.
I can’t believe you are falling off the trail this far, in light of my counter arguments- at least.
At that time and place humankind chopped off hands or stoned people because that is how the social behavior of those people evolved. I guarantee you that those mores, punishments, and behaviors were the optimum operating “procedure” for the DNA or survival of that time.  I guarantee it!  How the people justified it with sugar coatings of god myths and morals is:
1. irrelevant to this discussion specifically;
2. and also those myths and god morals were/are part and parcel of the same evolutionary process described directly above.

GdB-Nobody deserves punishment. But we, the society, collectively decide what we think are appropriate measures for acts we despise of.

Nobody deserves punishment?  I thought you concurred with my position on the elements of “deserts”, and their origins and functions?  Individuals or groups of people in concert decide these punishments/rewards based on our natural behavioral propensity for reward, revenge, correction, elimination etc…“deserts”.
Again, when I likened people’s propensity for “deserts” to a man raising/wiggling his eyebrows as a sexual signal, or to a monkey in a cage choosing a warm fuzzy surrogate mother over a cold metal one, you raised no objections.  With this in hand, how can you raise an objection, or claim that “deserts” are a concept that can be eliminated?  Seriously?!?!  You wonder why I get testy in these discussions?  I’m betting dollars to donuts you give me another fluff response in regards to these direct challenges to your position.

GdB-We might live in a time of Enlightenment, but we are not ready yet. We still have thought patterns left over from our religious cultural background.

Your idea of “ready” is purely subjective!  I graciously agreed with all of your points concerning the “discussion” of humans through time and the continued liberalization of judicial procedure, punishments, wealth distribution, egalitarianism etc.
Ready for what? Ready for what GdB?!?!?

A little aside here.  A couple of days ago I had a thought concerning your’s and Steve’s “obsession” with these points.  Specifically the stubborn insistence on certain points of punishemnts and “deserve”.  And both of your continued replies with vague notions and non-logical formulations. Insisting that people don’t “deserve” punishment.

My question is this: do either of you reside in jail or prison?

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Posted: 13 August 2012 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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VYAZMA,

I built up an argument to get to the points you criticise. As long you are not reacting on these arguments, you are beating in the air.

Your criticism does not touch on what I want to say. So I leave it at that.

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